Briggs & Stratton swings to profit but will close some plants

Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. announced 2012 fiscal second quarter net income of $2.7 million, a major improvement from a $1.25 million loss in the previous fiscal year’s second quarter.
However, the company also said that its net sales dipped for the quarter from $450.3 million to $447.9 million.
"The economic environment and the levels of consumer spending for outdoor power equipment continues to be challenging in the United States and in Europe," said Todd Teske, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Since 2004, the U.S. lawn and garden market has declined over 33 percent. This significant and prolonged market decline is unlike any other this industry has seen in decades. We continue to execute our strategy of diversifying our product portfolio and seeking growth in other regions of the world."
Also, the company said that it will close its Newbern, Tenn. Facility and move work from there to its McDonough, Ga. facility. The Newbern, Tenn. facility currently manufacturers walk behind lawn mowers and snow throwers for the U.S. domestic market. The closure of the Tennessee plant will affect 240 regular employees and 450 temporary employees.
The company said it will also close its Ostrava, Czech Republic plant, shifting production to its Murray, Ken. facility. The Ostrava, Czech Republic facility currently manufactures small engines for the outdoor power equipment industry. The closing of the Ostrava, Czech Republic facility will affect approximately 77 regular employees
Also, the company said it will continue reducing capacity by reconfiguring and idling certain assets at its Poplar Bluff, Mo. facility. The company does not anticipate significant employment changes at its Poplar Bluff facility.
"We continually evaluate our manufacturing footprint as we consider productivity and efficiency gains along with changes in the markets we serve,” said Teske. “The actions announced today to consolidate our manufacturing footprint further, will better align our production capacity to the markets we serve. It was a very difficult decision to close these production facilities. However, these changes are a necessary step in executing our strategy to grow the profitability of our business and invest our resources in high margin and margin expanding areas. We will make a dedicated effort to minimize the impact of these closings on our employees and the surrounding communities."

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